Joe Jaketic will be entering his 13th season at the helm of the Cleveland State cross country team, and will begin the 2017 campaign with a Viking squad that features nine veterans and six newcomers.
Among the 2017 returners is senior Karen Barrientos - one of the best runners to ever wear the Green and White. As a junior transfer last season, Barrientos became the first Viking to earn First Team All-Horizon League honors during Jaketic’s tenure, while setting program records on the 5K and 6K courses.
Entering the season, two current Vikings have combined for 11 top-50 5K times since Jaketic took over the Cleveland State program, while four current Vikings have combined for 15 top-50 6K times.
Jaketic’s best season with the Vikings came during the 2011 campaign, when he guided the squad to a fourth place finish at the Horizon League Championship. Cleveland State’s fourth place finish at the 2011 league championship marked the highest finish in program history.
Over his 12 years at the helm of the cross country team, Jaketic has continued to build the program into a Horizon League contender year-in and year-out. He has worked hard on the recruiting trail to bring in student-athletes that not only succeed on the cross country course, but also in the classroom since he has a personal philosophy that academics come first in his program.
During his tenure, 51 student-athletes have earned John Konstantinos Athletic Academic Honors, including 15 who earned the accolade during all four years of their career. Since the 2005 season, the Vikings have earned USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors nine times (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008), been named Cleveland State’s ‘Best of the Best’ three times (2011, 2010, 2006) and won the Academic Progress Rate Award nine times (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). Three of Jaketic’s recruits have also been named Cleveland State Valedictorians, as Brittany Elmlinger earned the honor during Fall 2012, Kelly Zaleski picked up the award during Spring 2013, and Katie Webb earned the honor during Fall 2015.
A Cleveland State graduate in 1972, Jaketic has never been able to shake his enthusiasm for the Vikings – which has carried over into his professional career. Prior to becoming head coach, Jaketic served as the equipment manager for CSU athletics. He retired from that position in December of 2008 after 37 years. Jaketic ran cross country at Maple Heights High School and spent time running at Ohio University before transferring to run cross country and track at Cleveland State.